News / USA

Americans Want Smaller, More Efficient Government

Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010
Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010

Most of the 50 US states have struggled to close budget gaps by reducing public services, raising taxes or borrowing. A new study says Americans want leaner and more efficient government to deal with the budget crises. The survey shows that residents of five key US states share a sense of frustration and urgent desire to reform the budget process.

After the worst recession in 70 years and drastic drops in tax revenue, state governments are scrambling to balance their budgets. In California, lawmakers are working to close a 19 billion dollar shortfall. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year imposed three-day-a-month furloughs on many state workers as a cost-cutting measure, and a court this week said that, despite a challenge by the workers, the measure is legal.

California was one of the five states in the survey, together with Arizona, Florida, Illinois and New York. Residents of each state face similar problems of high unemployment, a bleak real estate market and reduced tax revenues. Each has seen conflicting demands to raise taxes and save government programs, on one hand, or cut taxes and slash programs, on the other.

Susan Urahn of the Pew Center on the States says researchers see consistent responses from state to state on what the public wants. Four in ten respondents want smaller government, and even more are worried about waste.

"The real question is not how small or how large government ultimately should be, but how state leaders can demonstrate they are reducing waste, making government more efficient, and maximizing returns on taxpayer dollars," she said.

The survey shows that spending cuts are the most popular way to bring budgets under control. But a majority of respondents are willing to pay higher taxes to preserve elementary and high school education, and health services.

Urahn says that schools, health and social services are, in reality, the biggest recipients of state dollars, so that shielding them from cuts will be difficult.

Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California says respondents resist public borrowing, the passing of debt to future generations.

"When it comes to how to close their state's budget gap, more than two thirds of residents in all five states pick spending cuts first," he said. "They prefer tax increases second, and then borrowing."

Voters would like to raise taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, and also raise corporate taxes. But Baldassare says revenue from these sources would do little to close huge budget gaps.

The analysts say the public has a sense of urgency, but is not fully aware of the trade-offs needed to balance a public budget. They say political leaders have a lot of work to do in educating the public about the tough choices they face.

The analysts say that after the election in November, at least half of US states will have first-term governors who will face competing demands from a skeptical public over taxes and spending, and a rigid bottom line in their state budgets.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs